Mennon gazed in wonder at the sight that lay through the wraithglass encircling the command dome of the Musteon. Space unfolded around humanity’s refuge as the great reality warping engine wound down, revealing a breathtaking view. Half the sky was blotted out by the glow of ionized gas, energized by nearby stars in their final stages of life. The other half was pitch black by comparison, any stars that lay within the void hidden due to the glow of the ancient, mineral rich nebula.
Turning his mind from the view, Mennon pulled up an interactive display of the system the Musteon now perched above. One of the few young stars residing in the nebula, it was still in its infancy, gravity working hard to coax the little remaining nearby fuel towards the budding star. The age of the nebula led to an abundance of heavier elements needed for proper ship repairs. As expected, the pull of the star’s gravity served to concentrate the nearby resources into a blanket for the budding star. Mennon smiled, and turned to Neyana. “Travelling here was an excellent choice. Looks like we shouldn’t have any trouble at all getting what we need.”
She simply nodded, too intent reading numerous reports to acknowledge him.
Mennon sighed, running his hands through his hair. The damage reports were… troubling, to say the least. The original builders had constructed the ship entirely out of wraithsteel, which responded well to psychic powers. Things like his chair, for example, could reform according to the will of their user, and imitate other materials as well. Normally repairs would be easier than baking a pie, as the engineers could simply summon more wraithsteel and it would mold itself into the damage. However, wraithsteel had a running cost to maintain itself, which the core was currently barely capable of providing. The best estimates put fully repairing the ship with wraithsteel alone to take 70 years or more.
Thus the need for other sources of repair materials. Mennon and the farsight council were hopeful that the solar dust contained the necessary elements for some rather critical repairs to the reality drive and the manufacturing dome.
It took several hours to finish the long distance analysis of the system, during which Mennon continued to examine the data for anomalies.
“Did you find anything?”
Shaking her head in the negative, Neyana replied, “No. Everything seems to be standard for a birthing system.” There was a pause, and more screens flickered past. “The pilots for the mining drones seem to be having issues with the connection. They’re requesting your assistance.”
Mennon sighed slightly. “Alright, I was just finishing up here anyways.” He stood up. “Contact me if anything big happens.”
Neyana gave a short nod.
A flick of his mind had the tube network routing a transport pod to the command dome’s entrance. Mennon began heading that way, nodding to the officers he passed. As he walked, his mind reached out, searching for Legado’s unique mental signature. Countless minds, both inside the wraith circuit and anchored inside a body, flickered past his perception rapidly as the mental net he cast expanded further and further across the ship. Normally telepathic abilities could never reach out to 80 miles, but with the wraith circuit as a conduit, there was nowhere on the ship that the farseers could not communicate with each other.
Legado was within the core of the ship. When Mennon’s mind brushed against Legado’s, he physically staggered to the side as an immense sense of loss and repressed pain enveloped him. Mennon leaned against the wall as he severed the connection, breathing heavily.
As Mennon leaned against the wall he felt a tendril of thought reach the edge of his mind. He gave it permission and connected. Legado?
Yes, sorry about that. Mennon could feel Legado’s concern flow across the mental link. Normally I leave my mind shielded, but we are about to perform a short term future telling. Are you alright?
Mennon mentally nodded. No lasting harm was done. Serves me right for forgetting just how powerful you are. He paused. I was planning on asking you where you were, but you just answered that for me. I’ll leave you to the future telling. Mind sending me the results?
Of course. With that, the connection severed.
One of the minds within the wraith circuit impatiently alerted Mennon to the fact that the pod he ordered had been waiting several minutes now. He sent a quick apology, and started walking again, somewhat faster this time.
It took but a minute to arrive at the transfer station. Mennon stepped up onto the boarding platform, opened the door to the spherical pod, and stepped in. The door sealed automatically behind him. All it took was a mental push and the pod began rapidly accelerating along the track. Mennon used the pod’s built in screen to call the engineering bay that he was headed towards. One of the pilots picked up.
The young man, hardly looking to be 60, picked up the phone. He asked irritably, “Yes?”
Upon seeing who was on the other end, the young pilot’s demeanor rapidly changed. “Lord Mennon! I was not expecting your call!”
Mennon smiled slightly. “I’m just calling to let you know that I will be arriving shortly to assist with the calibration. According to the pod ETA I’ll be there in about 10 minutes.”
The pilot grinned. “Excellent. With your assistance this shouldn’t take too long at all. See you then!” The call ended.
Mennon sat back in his seat and sighed again. Accidentally brushing Legado’s outer mind unprotected had reminded him of how Legado used to be, before the Shattering had taken place. Back when they hadn’t known.
Legado had once been as happy as anyone could be. He was one of the first ascendant humans, along with 17 others who had been the first batch of genetically modified people with greater access to the Tumult. He had lived through the final decades of the seemingly endless war that had taken place between humanity and the countless other denizens of the Milky Way. Legado had watched as a Golden Age arose, the energy from the Tumult providing everything they could have wanted. He had also lived through the Shattering.
It had hit him hard, when society collapsed. Plans to launch worldships like the Musteon had already been in the works, but the imminent depletion of the Tumult had accelerated the time table considerably. The worldship program had been where Mennon met Legado for the first time, a living legend made flesh. Mennon had looked up to him as an idol. As a rising star among the ranks of skilled psychics, Mennon had become close friends with Legado. When they’d had to flee the Shattering on the still unfinished Musteon, it had broken Legado. Unable to pull his friend from the depths of sadness, Mennon witnessed firsthand as his childhood idol, now friend, went through a stage of intense emotional turmoil. Mennon lost a friend, that year. The permanently sanguine and prideful Legado that he had known was dead, and had been replaced with a seething ball of determination. Still unwilling to let go of his human pride, the new Legado was determined to see humanity’s proliferation in the Andromeda galaxy at all costs.
When Legado had touched Mennon’s mind just after he had recoiled, Mennon had detected the old Legado, just for a moment. But just as quickly, it had gone again. Mennon worried that even if they were successful in establishing a new human nation his old friend may never come back.
Mennon’s mind returned to its usual state as the pod he was traveling in came to a stop at the engineering bay.
Stepping onto the white metal of the maintenance bay deck, Mennon looked around. He hadn’t yet been in the engineering bay due to it being depressurized by a collision in deep space, and had only recently been repaired.
The engineering dome was like much of the rest of the craft on the outside, a large partitioned sphere. Mennon’s pod had deposited him at the entrance to one of the minor maintenance bays within, used to repair small craft. It stretched several thousand feet across, and about five hundred craft of various sizes were situated within. People ran from craft to craft as much of the Musteon’s engineering know-how was employed in getting the ancient mining drones running.
The Musteon’s planners had accounted for the possibility of needing to harvest resources, but had considered it an incredibly remote one. The drones were outdated and archaic, using first generation energy receivers and possessing only rudimentary mental linking ability.
In his haste to dig into a difficult problem, Mennon jumped the railing encircling the top steps into the room. Just before he hit the ground, a twist of his mind saw his velocity reduced to nothing.
He scanned the room quickly again, looking for the head engineer. As his gaze moved over a group below one of the larger craft, one of them waved. Mennon waved back and began walking quickly in that direction.
The group of five stopped talking as Mennon neared, opening their circle to make room for him.
One spoke up. “Good morning to you, Mennon. My name is Anita and I’m the head engineer in charge of this mess.”
Mennon inclined his head as the others introduced themselves. “So what seems to be the problem? I was informed there was an issue with the sensory array calibration?”
Anita scowled. “There’s more than one issue, but that’s the most troubling one. These mining craft are so out of date that they are completely incompatible with our command pods. They only relay video that’s even formatted differently from the standard, and we’ve been unable to modify it at all. The finicky things will only accept farseer access codes.”
Pointing to the hull that loomed over them, Mennon inquired, “I take it this craft above us is the main relay?”
“Yes. The system considers it the main node so any changes made to it should propagate through the subsystems.”
Mennon nodded. “I’ll see what I can do.”
He turned to the ship, reaching out with his mind. The machine mind contained within its wraithsteel hull responded to the contact quickly.
Greetings. Detecting key… Detected. User: Farseer Mennon Minagi. Welcome, administrator.
A mental map of the craft’s physical layout appeared in Mennon’s mind. He focused in on the ship’s core, where it’s mana relay and central processing unit resided. Upon focusing on that specific section of the ship, the other information faded away and more detailed information for that section appeared. Mennon trawled through thousands of lines of semi-organic code, fixing minor bugs along the way. The quality (or lack thereof) within the program made it obvious to him that the original designers had never expected these to become necessary.
He bypassed the second level of security around the code dictating critical operations, and then connected the craft to the Musteon’s wraith circuit. A number of minds within the circuit had knowledge of the original design and as such were in a much better situation to fix the problem, so at this point all Mennon needed to do was sit down and wait.
He sat upon the floor of the maintenance bay and leaned against a container of spare parts, watching his mind as his bodyless human companions sifted through the core code and compared it to the systems found within the more up to date vessels the Musteon carried. It only took a few minutes to fix the issue, upon which the spirits withdrew back into the main circuit and the connection between the two snapped.
Mennon opened his eyes, and stood up. He scanned the crowd for Anita, spotting her under the engine of a vessel that resembled nothing more than a large funnel with an engine stuck on the thin end.
She turned to him as he neared, and tilted her head inquisitively. “Well?”
“I successfully unlocked the core, and had a number of those that worked on the original design update its programming for me. It should be possible to push the update to the entire fleet now.”
Anita’s gaze went out of focus. He could feel her mind expand as she reached out towards the vessel Mennon had modified. He watched mentally as she double checked the connections between the main barge and its attendant craft, before flipping a switch within the code.
Mennon let out the breath he had been holding as nothing visibly happened. The only sign of a change was the computer giving a mental confirmation letting them know the command had been successfully updated.
Anita looked at Mennon again. “It seems to have worked.”
He nodded. “Do we have any test command pods in here?”
Anita pointed to the far wall of the bay, which was a glass wall through which a number of silvery metal eggs could be seen.
“I see. That certainly answers my question. I’m going to test the modifications we just made, can you clear the launch bay?”
Anita nodded in confirmation. Mennon turned and paced towards the aforementioned room, wincing inwardly as he weaved through the mess of engineers and crates. Despite being over two hundred years old, he’d never entirely gotten the hang of this whole ‘social interaction’ thing.
Upon reaching the door, one of the people within the wraith circuit reached out to his mind, confirming his identity and granting access to the testing command pods. The door hissed softly as it opened.
He stepped into the room, giving it a cursory examination. The room was completely white, made of the wraithsteel that almost the entire ship was comprised of. Ten command pods were arranged in two rows of five in the center of the room. Each resembled an egg slightly larger than a person, nestled within a metal cradle. A number of wires protruded from the top and bottom of each egg, flowing along the outside towards the central spine bracing, where they joined together and followed the structural brace into the floor.
The walls were completely bare, white panels, with the exception of the wall facing the maintenance bay. Mennon activated the local computer, causing the lights within the room to light up. The far wall began glowing with a large amount of information regarding the status of pod one, which had begun to make a humming noise as it spooled up to functionality.
Mennon tugged on his sleeve cuffs, and nudged the material with his mind. It expanded, forming a pair of gloves for his hands. His standard issue jumpsuit reformatted itself so that the only exposed portion of his body was his nose and mouth, while the rest was sealed within the suit.
He approached the active pod, keying his credentials into a keypad that appeared on the top of the oblong egg. The humming increased in volume as the egg’s shape changed to account for his size and weight. After a moment, it stopped expanding. The top split lengthwise along the pod, and the two halves slid down into the sides of the pod.
He climbed in, and sent a final confirmation with his mind. The lid closed over the top of him with nary a sound. After a moment, the capsule began filling with a gelatinous substance that could provide oxygen and nutrients to his body while his mind was elsewhere.
As the gel filled his lungs, he slipped into unconsciousness.